Monday, 28 November 2011

Quote of the Week - Burroughs

"The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are."

- John Burroughs

Well, I don't mind saying, this is a tough one.  The concept keeps arriving in different forms lately, this one being the most succinct and eloquent version.  Being grounded, or seated, where you are, wrestling with the particular challenges of that, is not always so sexy.  As Mercury goes retrograde, though, it is exactly where we are that demands attention.

Working on it.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Alternative to Corporate Black Friday Shopping Guide (Part 3 - Stuff))

Robot Couple Note Cards
Who doesn't need Robot Couple Cards?


Well, if you must have or give stuff - make it good stuff!

MILLENIUM GENERAL ASSEMBLY - Jewelry and bits!  Hand-crafted pieces made from vintage and antique ingredients!  Yum.

ETSY -  You must know about etsy - the place where crafty types come together to show and sell their adorable to luscious wares.  Some of my recent favorites include The Hyper Bunny, Heartfelt By Aviva, and Weather and Noise - all encountered at the hyper-local The Girlie Show in OKC!

BRAT - Get off the internet!  If you're lucky enough to be near Santa Monica, you can shop at Brat!  If it weren't for my old roommate, I wouldn't know about this awesome spot for fun clothing and accessories at prices so great you can get 3 outfits instead of 1!

ART FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY - A4DS is an activist organization of artists - they have cool stuff you can purchase to help accessorize your artivist lifestyle!  My fave: the "What Would Malcolm Do? button.

Bangers & Smashed Gourmet Mashed Potatoes | Bourbon Pecan Smashed with Jack Daniel's and spice
Bourbon Pecan Smashed! What's more seasonal and beautiful than these?


BANGERS & SMASHED  - A company dedicated to mashed potatoes?  You got it!  Local LA potato-maven J. Flo makes mashed potatoes in tons of flavors!  Order by the pint!  Special arrangements can be made for non-LA orders!

RAW BITES - Vegan, raw foods made locally in LA!  Truffles, energy snacks, tapas!  Made to order!  If you mention that you saw this on the Zestyverse, you get 25% off your first order!

LACMA at night


There are so many ways to keep your money local and positive.  Some of the best gifts you can ever give or receive are memberships to museums, or local arts and culture organizations.  By gifting memberships, you are supporting the community and culture and giving the gift of time well spent!

Especially if I'm not super-close with people, I like to give gifts that can get used up.  If you give someone a permanent gift (like, say, a vase), they sort of have to keep it in their home, whether they like it, or not.

As an alternative, think of giving fragrant soaps (unless they are allergic to fragrances!), candles, great chocolate (like Theo's), bath salts, flowers, flowering plants, stationery, a great bottle of wine, port, or scotch, a gift certificate to a fantastic cheese store - anything that can be used up (or pretty easily regifted if necessary - and don't let your feelings be hurt - regifting is a form of recycling!).  These don't have to be impersonal if they are well-chosen, decadent, local, and lovely.

The Alternative to Corporate Black Friday Shopping Guide (Part 2 - Sounds)

Wondering how to avoid the machine on Black Friday weekend?

Go indie.

Shivers - EP, Kal Lavelle


Soundcloud.  Bandcamp.  LastFm.  All of these and, yes, even iTunes, will get you plugged in to distinctly un-corporate music.  It's great to listen to up and coming acts on Spotify or Pandora, but take the extra step and support the artists by putting money in their wallets!  Some of my favorites...

KAL LAVELLE - Fantastic voice and songwriting, the aptly-named Shivers EP gives a hint of things to come from the wonderful Kal.

ELEVATERS - I.  Just.  Love.  This.  Band.  

KEVIN SANDBLOOM - The tireless troubadour has just recreated Joni Mitchell's Blue album - cover to cover - for its 40th anniversary.

ALI WHITTON - Ali's gorgeous new EP Ruapehu is available now.  Here's a sneak peak:

DEF SOUND - Don't sleep on Def Sound.  You may wake up wondering what happened.

KCRW  is just perfect.  LA's local NPR station has an awesome line-up of DJ's, as well as provocative and fun cultural programming.  Membership is inexpensive, comes with a load of levels and benefits, and even if you're not an Angeleno, you can get everything KCRW has to offer live streaming and archived on their website! Not to mention Eclectic 24 a separate 24-hour streaming music channel!  G'won!

Friday, 25 November 2011

(Un)Occupy Black Friday + Shopping Guide (Part 1)

Though I think applying "Occupy" to things as a cultural trend has jumped the shark (already?  yup, already), I'm gonna use it here just this one more time.

What if you don't go shopping for the sales the day after Thanksgiving (thus the Un- prefix)?  What if you don't put more money into the accounts of the 1%?  Just a thought.

What would that look like?  Not buying electronics made overseas by people getting paid less than our hourly minimum wage for a day's work.  Not lining up for more STUFF that you probably don't need and don't have room for (see my blog on decluttering if you need to).  Not buying presents that are easily interchangeable with the next thing on the shelf.

The sale myth is a tough one.  Spend money you weren't going to spend because it's on sale.  Right.  Or you could just buy what you love or what you really need, or gift something to someone that they will truly appreciate.

Wait - you want IDEAS?

Oh, alright.

The Alternative to Corporate Black Friday Shopping Guide.

The Night Goes On All Night


Okay - fair warning, I might just be associated with the following books in some manner...

THE NIGHT GOES ON ALL NIGHT - "Just released from Ain’t Got No Press is “The Night Goes On All Night”…an anthology of noir-inspired poems, edited by Rick Lupert and published in conjunction with the Los Angeles Poetry Festival’s “Night and the City” Noir Festival. " - Poetry Superhighway  P.S.  There are lots of other great books by independent authors in the PSH Bookstore!

FROSTBITTEN - Mark Walton's collection of beautifully crafted poems is insightful and affecting.

SWIMMING THROUGH AMBER - E. Amato's first collection of poetry - oh, yeah, you know already.

WHAT LANGUAGE IS - John McWhorter's latest book lets us peek into the form, function and evolution of language in ways that give us a look at ourselves and how we function in society.

BEYOND BAROQUE has a bookstore!  How amazing is that?  A 501C3 not-for-profit, BB is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting Los Angeles poetry and supporting the community.  Not only can you shop in the bookstore, but you could purchase a membership for yourself or someone else.  The benefits are fantastic!

(Some of the links are via Amazon.  That's gonna have to be okay.)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Quote of the Week - Kornfield

"You are worthy of wishing yourself well."

-Jack Kornfield (via LA YOGA)

It's Monday morning, and I'm listening to Stevie Wonder.  Stevie is masterful at balancing love with righteous anger.  Sometimes you just need to check in with someone, somewhere, who seems to make sense of the world.

This is a tall order these days. It is hard for me to keep in mind that my personal wellbeing is important compared to the safety of protestors in Tahrir Square or  to those in Burma fighting for any kind of representation.  I am deeply saddened by the actions of the Berkeley police, and the administration of UC Berkeley, who called them in and allowed them to beat students.  That they inadvertently beat wonderful poet, translator, and teacher Robert Hass is almost beside the point - he could have been any 70 year old man - they were completely indiscriminate.  We are well on our way to another Kent State.

As we stare down the barrel of the tactics used by police forces around the country to evict peaceful protestors, as our psyches try to process the awfulness allowed to occur and continue at Penn State, it is clear we are in the process of discovering  and shining light on a kind of baseline violence that is pervasive.

Truth can be very unsettling.  The only balance to this is peace.  A very vigilant daily practise of peace.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Twin Peaks Redux

I've finished rewatching all the episodes of Twin Peaks which is streaming on Netflix.

I find it more compelling than when I originally watched it, and much much more fun.  The first season is full of cinematic mastery.  The second season falters and is uneven, but still has brilliance.

David Lynch seems to have bestowed Agent Cooper with all of his predilections, which shake down as coffee, pie, and eastern philosophy.  Watching the show makes me want coffee at odd hours and makes hungry for pie (I don't like pie).

Lynch offers a profound exploration of the male heart and psyche through his dark detour in the evil that men do.  It is a gift, really, to have this range of characters to follow through the strange journeys he sets up for them.

It was nice to see that many episodes were directed by women.

Tim Hunter also directed several episodes.  The image of Laura Palmer by the river wrapped in plastic has always made me think of his great movie River's Edge.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Night Goes on All Night!

I'm thrilled to be included in this new anthology of Noir-inspired poems!  Thanks to Rick Lupert for putting it together!


Available on Poetry Superhighway  and at

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Quote of the Week - Gaiman

"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."

A lot of us seem to be living in this world lately.

Image courtesy Daniel Colvin

I was connected to Daniel Colvin and his art by a mutual friend.  His images bring out the mysticism in nature for me, and many put me in mind of Joseph Cornell.  I sense his film background in his art, as each one seems to represent just one moment in an ongoing story.

For a bigger view of this amazing image and more of Daniel Colvin's work, you can CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The New Season

I always try to watch at least one episode of every new show.  That said, this year was a challenge.

Shows I did not make it through even one episode:

Pan Am (she's a stewardess - no she's a spy! yeah, no.)
Charlie's Angels (oops - bye bye)
New Girl (yeah, I know it's a hit, but it's just so earnestly quirky, yet falling into an exact formula)

Shows I didn't care about but watched all the way through:

Person of Interest (disappointed, might try it again)
Prime Suspect (disappointed, won't try it again)

Shows I watched and might watch again:

Once Upon A Time - In typical ABC fashion, this one's by the book.  In every way.  A little flat, a little silly, some excellent actors wasted so far, some cheesy effects (some good ones).  Hovering somewhere between Disney and not Disney, it has a lot of options, but isn't choosing them.

Have been rewatching Twin Peaks - Ginnifer Goodwin and Sherilyn Fenn - separated at birth?

Shows I so far like:

Revenge  - I know - nighttime soap opera, but hello, Madeline Stowe?  Can't not watch.

Grimm - Yes.  They get this one right.  Very promising.  (Have since watched second episode.  Not as good, starting to feel like a procedural, but think they will pull it back from the brink.)

Boss - Wow.  Am I gonna have to subscribe to Starz to get this?  This show - from opening credits to last image is a watcher.  Gus Van Sant seems to bring a base level of truth telling to this show, Kelsey Grammar has found a part he can use all his best instincts to play, and the twists are good.  It's threatening Wire territory - as much as any non-HBO show could.

American Horror Story - Pilot was fantastic, dipped in episode 2, and back in episode 3.  Episode 4 was solid, though I feel like they are already losing pieces of their story having thrown too much in the mix.  Killer casting.  Scary, sexy, and fun.  Has Dylan McDermott finally found the right series?  Will the show stay on track or derail (like Nip/Tuck, and Glee)? Tune in next week for more goth goofiness and fantastic scenery-chewing battles between Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy.

Alphas lost me around episode 4, I think.  Still, I have hope the writers might bring it back.  It's a great concept.  (I don't know if that really counts as this season - SyFy's seasons seem to run a bit counter to network, but it's new to me!)

If I watched more than this, then, well, I forgot them completely (like Unforgettable, which was, um, not).  So either they weren't really bad, or notable in any way.  Those are probably the ones that'll run the most seasons.

I'm still in love with Community and think it's the most under-rated show out there.  I gave Glee another try, but lost interest, as I did mid-last season.  Still, I'm glad it's there to tune into when I feel like it.

Anyway, don't take my word - here's a second opinion on the season.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Quote of the Week - Cocteau

"You have to know how far to go too far."

Ah...this is blessed, no?

The answer to everything, right here.

Take it.  Run with it.  Not too far.

Jean Cocteau:  artist, filmmaker, poet, human

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Occupy The Rum Diary

Went to see The Rum Diary with a friend.  Wasn't expecting to head to the theatre for it; wasn't expecting to like it.  Some of the dialogue is wickedly funny.  The references are fast and furious, and the cynicism refreshing. 

And...this is the car I want - Fiat 500 - with Johnny Depp driving, of course!
What suprised me most about it, though, was how timely it is.  Kemp's (Hunter S. Thompson's alter-ego played by Johnny Depp) crusade to expose entrenched corporate greed in Puerto Rico in 1960 is a screeching echo of the rage (no, not frustration) people are feeling right now in 2011.  The crisis is tailor-made for our lifetime - a few greedy men conspire to ruin beautiful beachfront property with massive hotels - stealing the landscape to make money.  Kemp is enlisted to help them sell it to the public.  His willingness to fight this corruption, bite the hand, and name it rage is not noble; it's necessary.

Hunter S. Thompson's social commentary and x-ray vision to ferret out hypocrisy is all over the script and the chewy dialogue.  The actors seem to have a good time delivering these lines and playing with each other. 

Go see it.  Remind yourself that this particular struggle has been going on for decades, really centuries.  There is a legacy, and we can learn from our losses.